You’ve likely attended a webinar in the past and wondered how you could implement a similar model within your own marketing plan. Today, more than 60 percent of marketers use webinars as a key component of their overall marketing strategy. These online video sessions have grown in popularity, and can include pre-recorded videos with a Q&A session or live streaming.

However, hosting a webinar without first thinking through all the implications, from the best platform to which ideas to present, can leave a bad taste in the mouth of potential customers and do more harm than good. That’s why it is important to understand the ins and outs of webinars and the benefits, as well as the specifics of hosting one.

Benefits of Hosting a Webinar

There are many more benefits than disadvantages when it comes to hosting webinars. First and foremost, you will build your authority in your given niche. Teaching others shows where you have expertise. While you are teaching others, you’ll also begin to better understand your target audience through the questions they ask and the skills they’d like to develop.

Webinars are fairly inexpensive to host, requiring mainly your time and expertise, though you will need some advertising or promotion to get the word out. You can also promote your products and services within your webinars, encouraging registrants to sign up for additional courses, buy your books and so on. As a plus, you’ll reach new customers you otherwise might not have reached without the webinar.

What Content to Teach/Demo

When it comes to what content to offer and how to offer it, the answer is less straightforward. What works for one business may not work for another. A good starting point is to poll your regular site visitors and ask what questions they have, or what problems they need to solve. How can you go about providing a solution through a webinar? What do you know that no one else out there knows? How can you present that information in a unique way?

Try to stay away from big concepts that are impossible to demonstrate. Instead of offering a webinar on raising a child from birth to adulthood, focus on the toddler years, for example. Narrow your niche so your webinars are bite-sized pieces of information that will help your audience grow in some way.

You also want to create series so people will come back time and time again. You can turn webinars into money-making ventures, if you’d like, so keep that in mind. Perhaps offer the first webinar for free, and subsequent ones in that series for a small fee. You can also offer a discount if they buy the entire series at once.

Your Target Audience

Another note on the content you provide is that you have to really know your target audience. Create a user persona that represents your typical site visitor. Now, if you were that person, what would you want to know? How would you want that information delivered?

Careful observation of your target audience, key questions and looking at the questions the audience themselves ask can all help you better understand who you are creating material for and how best to satisfy their needs.

If you can successfully identify your target audience, you will have a loyal fan base who will return for your webinars time and time again.

What Platform to Use:

There are a number of webinar software options for those who want to deliver webinars. Each has pros and cons. What type of webinar you plan to offer will determine what is best for you to use.

Skype

Skype is a clear choice because of the ability to both appear on video and have conversations at the same time. Whether you have a moderator answering questions, or you use a pre-recorded video and answer them yourself, Skype is an inexpensive and smart option for business owners to use as a delivery model.

Google+ Hangout

The new kid on the block, Google+ Hangout is an interesting choice to deliver webinars. It is essentially a social media platform — which allows you to easily gain followers — and is free to use. Your group will have to stay small, as it only allows for 10 people on a video call, but you can also live-stream to a YouTube channel or website. Even better, you can record and publish your hangouts on YouTube, allowing others to view them later.

GoToWebinar

One of the better-known webinar delivery systems, GoToWebinar is an excellent option if you want something highly intuitive and easy to use. The platform offers attendees the ability to register ahead of time, allows for HD video recording and will offer polls, surveys and archives of recordings. The cost varies, depending upon how many attendees you have.

AnyMeeting

Another option is AnyMeeting. They offer several plans, from free to pro, with the free plan allowing for 10 attendees at a time. You can easily increase your plan as your audience grows. Some of the features of AnyMeeting include the ability to share your screen, which can be particularly useful if you’re teaching coding or design concepts, and the ability to play YouTube videos within your presentation.

Ultimately, each platform has different advantages. You should try out each and see which one feels most comfortable and intuitive. Then, take into consideration how many attendees you have and the costs involved in using that platform. Finally, look at the key features included and which ones you can and can’t live without. Ideally, you will start with a free or cheap package and grow as your webinar income grows.

 

Hosting webinars is typically a good idea. Though you’ll face some challenges in creating them and delivering them to your target audience, they will expand your online reach and help you develop authority in your specific area of expertise. As a bonus, you can repackage webinars you’ve offered and sell them, creating a secondary source of revenue for your website.

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